Archive for the 'Street Art Worldwide' Category

10
Sep
11

Write a letter today…

It’s a cliche, but it’s true. In the age of Facebook chat and iphone instant messaging, people just don’t take the time to write letters to each other. I try my best to, and I just love receiving letters from friends. The scribbles on the paper, the anticipation as to what’s inside… a handwritten letter is like a flat present.
That’s why I made this.

It’s hanging on the construction perimeter fencing right by the Starbucks at Bank and Third and is packed full of nice envelopes and paper…everything one needs to write letters to friends or loved ones except for a pen and a stamp. Then again most people are bound to have a pen on them. I’m an artist, and bump up the average by having 6 or so in pockets and backpack.

I got the box from Zoom of Knitnut fame, and when I saw it I knew it had to be a mailbox. The thing must have weighed close to 2 kilos when I was done on account of the wood I had to bolt to the back to give the lid enough clearance to open. Go check it out. Take some time to write a few letters. Love each other and the city we live in.

My lovely assistant

What happens when you spend time retracing details on streetart instead of shaving

06
Sep
11

RIP Jack. The Struggle Continues

I went to Parliament Hill to file by Jack Layton’s coffin that Thursday, and it was the makeshift memorial full of cans of Orange Crush, letters of thanks and encouraging messages for the future that left me choked up and wiping tears off my cheeks. The idea of an Elmaks street art memorial piece crossed my mind and didn’t leave. It had to be done. Like most of my ideas, its birth came about in the form of two images. Layton’s mustache and NDP orange. I went looking for material and knew things were looking up when I stumbled upon a half-sheet of 1/2″ plywood behind the local trip mall. This would have to go from idea to finished product in 36 hours- my version of a no-huddle offense.

The most frustrating part of this was laying down Krylon indoor-outdoor gloss finish on top of Montana Black. The latter’s a proper artists’ paint and has a powdery finish, while the former’s gotten worse in terms of its consistency in recent years and sports a ‘tamper proof’ unremovable nozzle that sprays a blotchy wedge pattern which requires at least 2-3 coats even if you’re painting wicker furniture (Even though its cans are useless to proper street artists, Krylon’s cheap and that makes it a good friend of taggers). I laid down 3 coats of orange (10 minute drying time my ass…I spent 1 1/2 hours waiting for each coat to dry) before it hit me that Weld Bond glue could be used as an improvised primer.

Jack Layton wasn’t just a politician, he was an activist and an advocate. He was a tireless fighter for the rights of GLBT citizens, the homeless, immigrants, wounded soldiers and just about anyone else whose voice wasn’t being heard. He was an honest politician who sought to bring civility to Parliament. As his state funeral showed, he was a man who touched many lives.

He was also a powerful rallying figure for those who know that this country of ours is being steered in the wrong direction and want to turn the wheel sharply away from its present course. The enthusiasm of many who’ve vowed to carry on his tasks of activism and advocacy hasn’t quite hit me. It’s been patchy. But I’ve been also thrown into a bit of a worry-and-frustration-induced depression. Reality-induced funk, I guess.

It’s not just the slashing of Environment Canada jobs, the lack of whistleblower protection, the justification of $1 billion in expenses for the Toronto G8 summit and excusing of horrible police violence and unconstitutional mass arrests, the elimination of the Canadian Long Form Census, the blatant lie that crime rates are increasing being used to justify the construction of US-style megaprisons, the exorbitant expenditure on overpriced and untested single-engine fighter jets (I’ll say that what this country really needs in terms of home military equipment spending is a modernized Navy and Coast Guard), the “it’s the economy, stupid” claims of economic success in a petrostate with booming oil-prices (Canada’s economy has become a resource-extraction-based one), the refusal to answer media questions, “But That’s Simply Not True…”, the massive expansion of the tar sands and invite to foreign oil companies to make a mess they won’t ever have to clean up, the abyssmal conditions of Native reserves, the slashing of social spending, the falsifying of documents by a senior minister, or the Canadian Taliban-esque social conservatism that occasionally bursts through the background noise like a demented SETI signal broadcasting “Screw you all! We’re not only content with wrecking the environment but we’ll wreck all of your sinning, criminal lives to boot because that’s the way things were intended”

No, it’s not just that. It’s also the media’s cowardice in failing to press Harper even when he restricted them to five questions per day. It’s the chilling political climate this country’s taking on. It’s the rise of right-wing politicians who gut city and provincial treasuries like human locusts by slashing their tax base and handing out unscrutinized contracts to their friends.

It’s also the anger these politicans turn into a carefully directed hate and rise to power on, and it’s the fact that many among their electorate are cheering them on the entire time.

The other side never takes a day off from steering the reins in their direction. The struggle continues. We’ve got our work cut out for us. Thank you Jack. We lost a great fighter, rallier, inspiration and human being. Vires in Numeris. Let’s roll.

28
Aug
11

The Mustache lives on!

I’ve made and hung up a Jack Layton tribute. I’ll write a longer blog post with pictures and my thoughts on this past week in a little while, but for now here’s a teaser for you folks.
The Stache

The Mustache is a worthy deservant of its capital M.

13
Jul
11

Mosques, Meen and Manifestoes

First of all I’d like to give a shout out to the lovely MEEN- educator, artist, academic and maker of awesome things- of Meening of Life.

Also, have you heard of Slinkachu’s Little People Project? It’s a long-running street art project exploring the tiny intricacies of the urban landscape with , well, tiny people. Recently he’s added to his oeuvre with a miniature Ground Zero Mosque not too far from the actual one…which simply has to be seen.

Ex-CTV bureau chief Kai Nagata has not only quit his job but put forth a fairly scathing manifesto on the sorry state of Canadian journalism up on , which I encourage all of you to read…
Some choice points:
“There are also watchdogs with varying degrees of clout. But these entities have no enforcement capacity. Underneath this lies the fact that information is a commodity, and private TV networks are supposed to make money. All stations, publicly funded or not, want to maintain or expand their viewership. This is what I’ll call the elephant in the room…
Aside from being overrun by “Action News” prophets from Iowa, the CBC has another problem: the perception that it’s somehow a haven for left-wing subversives. True or not, the CBC was worried enough about its pinko problem to commission an independent audit of its coverage, in which more consultants tried to quantify “left-wing bias” and, presumably using stopwatches, demonstrate that the CBC gives the Conservative government airtime commensurate with the proportion of seats it holds in the House of Commons. Or something like that…
On climate change, the conclusion I am forced to draw is that the current federal government has completely abdicated its responsibility. The message to my generation is: figure it out yourselves. The dogmatic refusal to accept that people have created this crisis and people must do what they can to avert it reminds me of the flat-earth crew. Except this time, we really are going to sail off the edge…”

The endless repetition of charges of “Liberal Media Bias” by a monstrous American right-wing media bloc (a tactic which falls in well with Noam Chomsky’s observation that today’s media discourse is based on bombarding the markets with a statement until enough people believe it’s true) is starting to trickle north, and while I don’t think we have much to fear from Sun News now (Ezra Levant is a laughably pale clown hopelessly imitating things he’s seen Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly do in the hopes that he’ll get the same reaction…if a man has to break out the Muhammad Cartoons in 2011 as part of his schtick then there’s really no hope for him as a shock jock.) the desire to respond to these charges can clearly be seen in the actions of the CBC. How else can one explain Kevin (I’m not a real venture capitalist but I play one on TV) O’Leary getting his own political analysis show? Here’s a man who made money repackaging freeware for sale and has been accused of shady business practices by more than one group of shareholders. Well, I guess that sort of behaviour’s kinda par for the business class these days.

Don’t get me started on the latest election either. Our media outlets were content to let Stephen Harper endlessly repeat “But that’s simply not true” without calling him out on anything or forcing him to check his facts. What happened to the journos who ran Stockwell Day out of the room when he tried to insist that the Census figures on crime were rubbish? They chafed under Harper’s “5 questions a day and only the ones I want to answer” policy, but not a single news station made a big deal out of it?

04
Jun
11

Soon To Be Picturesque [your input here]

Well, the grand mystery of my health and ailments continues to confuse me. Having to put aside planned overseas field research and suddenly question the feasibility of future career plans which had previously seemed like a sure thing due to sudden medical problems has been bad enough. Still being uncertain is maddening.

Things that I’m loving include New Orleans’s Hypothetical Development Organization, a group whose raison d’etre involves imagining new futures for dilapidated or vacant buildings. What is it about New Orleans that`s managed to bring together street artists, graphic designers, urban planners and activists, architects, and other creatively-minded folks togetherÉ I’ve got a few projects on the go right now, and something of this sort being done for a number of Ottawa’s dilapidated landmarks (hello, City Centre building!)or dwindling downtown parking lots would be a neat idea. Good art of any kind should bring people together and get them talking about things they otherwise might not get to…and we’re at the cusp of an era where a lot of urban ‘ways of life’ are about to change considerably. Letting creativity run amok for the sake of getting people thinking about urban futures…that`s something I`m all for.

23
Dec
10

Children’s Book Illustrator, my newest hat.

Just when I said I wouldn’t take on any new work, a friend and colleague asked me to put together some drawings for a small kids’ book he’d written. The book is called “The Shop at the End of the High Street”, and is a whimsically surreal tale (complete with odd beasties and the stores that cater to them) about a family’s quest to visit the shop at the very end of Montreal’s Mont-Royal Avenue. The author felt that Montreal just does not have enough place-specific kids’ books that tell a tale and show off the city at the same time…and so I was recruited to the task with 40 hours’ notice.

Here are some of the results, which you can check out in larger size at Flickr



20
Dec
10

En Cas d’Amour…


A piece which I installed in front of a vacant lot on St. Laurent Boulevard in Montreal, near the St. Laurent/Fairmount intersection. The fronting of the lot with several 1/2″ plywood panels to create posterable space that hides the lot from view is a design feature I’ve seen in several other places around the city.

I’m really interested in the idea of creating variations of safety and public awareness posters, signs and installations along the line of the “IN CASE OF FIRE BREAK GLASS” or “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SUSPICIOUS, SAY SOMETHING” that are ever-present in certain areas to the degree that we simply tune them out.

18
Dec
10

Things of Interest…

Things that make me say “This is awesome!” these days:

The first is the work of Windsor’s Broken City Lab, an artist-led group that’s hard at work imagining new possibilities for run-down and neglected stretches of Windsor, Ontario. Windsor has been particularly hard-hit by the loss of good-paying industrial manufacuring jobs even before the latest recession came about and its close ties and proximity to the recession’s greatest urban victim, Detroit, make it an interesting bellweather for evaluating the recession’s economic and spatial impact on Canadian cities.

Broken City Lab also is involved in a number of urban installation projects aimed at getting Windsor residents to think more deeply about the urban spaces they interact with and consider how they might be improved.


They’re also involved in developing ‘micro-intervention’ pieces for use in improving small areas and helping educate residents about the potential for DIY-style urban improvement projects. Check out their Removable Garden Project.
As an urban planning student, I believe that any urban renewal or regeneration project must be driven in part by area residents and that the technologies, vocabulary and tools of the profession need to be made available and accessible to citizens. As a street artist, I believe that streetart can be used to temporarily improve an urban area in a manner that goes beyond just painting a pretty picture on a wall. It’s something that I’ve been trying to do with Swap Boxes for years now…

As well, two guys have created a rolling graffiti printer, which you can check out at Looptaggr . The idea of a dotted-and-dashed line stencil that could be spray-painted on sidewalks to create somewhat of an ‘urban treasure-hunt’ or a follow-the-line type of experience has interested me for quite some time.

A new and exciting update to McGill to Haiti is coming up soon. I’ve been derailed into a world of studio projects, deadlines, mayhem and confusing GIS maps which I’m only now starting to make some sense of…

07
Dec
10

Street Public Consultations

This is an absolutely fascinating urban design project which I love as a street artist, an urban planner in training, a visually-obsessed sorta-designer with an interest in grassroots-based planning and public awareness and as a longtime fan of New Orleans who went into urban planning with the idea of working in a disaster relief capacity.

The project is courtesy of urban planner/designer Candy Chang, someone who has managed to fuse urban planning and a passion for awesome art and design (something which I have been trying to do for what seems like ages). I have been spending part of the last two months thinking over the question of how I could transform something like the Swap Box Project or the Urban Journals into more of a thematic idea that could be used in the service of urban planning projects. They began as social experiments and evolved into means of ‘micro-revitalization’ that temporarily give a small area of public space a whole new interactive potential…
Swap Box

02
Dec
10

A preview of things to come…






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